“Give yourself to prayer, to reading on divine truths: strive to penetrate to the bottom of them and never be content with a superficial knowledge.” – David Brainerd
“The Lord is my shepherd; I have what I need.”
These words start one of the most beautiful and most quoted biblical poems (Psalm 23). The Psalms are one of the most quoted books of the Bible because they speak to our emotions and connect immediately to our lives. When we read them, we tend to picture in our minds the image above: reading our Bible at the lake and letting the truths of God penetrate our hearts so we can make it through the day.
It is common for many of us to view our daily Bible reading, devotional time, etc. as that image. We sit there with our coffee, open our Bible, and listen to those encouraging words from God. Our Bible reading begins to sound like a “pep talk with Jesus.”
There are times in our lives we need those encouraging words and promises of God. He tells us to cling to those promises and remember them (1 Chronicles 16:12; Psalm 13:5-6). It is from these promises that we move forward trusting God each step of the way.
However… A leg brace is more than a pretty color that decorates it. It has structure. It has a purpose. It has everything it needs to support an individual and make that individual mobile.
This is the same with our Bible time and Bible reading. It is more than a “pep talk with Jesus.” Our emotions do need help on a daily basis, but the Scriptures gives us a command and two other reason for doing our Bible reading.
II Timothy 2:15 states, “Be diligent to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”
Paul is writing Timothy to be diligent in handling God’s Word: through studying and through preaching. Even though II Timothy is known as a “pastoral epistle,” it can be applied to our lives. A mature believer is one who follows the principle in II Timothy 2:15 – being diligent with God’s Word. Diligent means, “characterized by steady, earnest, and energetic effort: painstaking.” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
We have a command. We are to diligently study the Bible and handle it in a right manner. It means hard work for us; like being back in school. It will take time. Studying the Bible means that it is more than our “pep talk with Jesus.” Studying the Bible means pouring ourselves over it with “steady, earnest, and energetic effort.”
But why take this effort and time to study the Bible? Two reasons…
Knowing God, Knowing Me
“For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God.” – Colossians 1:9-10
Why should we view our Bible reading as more than a “pep talk with Jesus?” Because, we need to be filled with the knowledge of God in order to know ourselves and live.
In this passage, we see that we need to be filled with the knowledge of God and his will. This is not a “fuzzy feeling” type of reading of the Bible. We need to know everything we can learn about God and his will from his Word. This means we will need to read and study out the love of God, the holiness of God, the righteous wrath of God, and what he expects from us as our Creator, Redeemer, and Lord. Reading about God’s wrath is uncomfortable, but is shows us who God is. Reading about God’s mercy and grace shows us who God is. These pictures may seem to contradict each other and be portraying two different “Gods.” But the beauty of the Bible is that it is one God. He is all these things and more. Our Bible studying should be done in order to know God in all his facets. We can wrestle with the apparent “contradictory truths” about God and study to know how they work together in the person our awesome Creator.
Braces have many parts to them. You need bolts, screws, plastic, etc. They all have to be there to keep individuals up. Not one person is only loving, or only gracious. God is the same. There are multiple facets that make up who God is that are found in his Word. You don’t really see them when you view your Bible study as a “pep talk with Jesus.” It is ok to wrestle through the passages to know God. Because, when we know God and see him for who he is, we are changed into his image more and more (II Corinthians 3:18). By knowing God, we know his will and how we are to live a life pleasing to him. He came to this earth, took on a human body, died, and rose again for us to have life. Why not get to know this God in all his amazing facets?
Dan Brown and Bible Reading
“Holding to the faithful message as taught, so that he will be able both to encourage with sound teaching and to refute those who contradict it.”
– Titus 1:9
Before continuing, please watch this clip: (You may need to copy and past the link in your browser)
How uncomfortable do you feel? Did something not sit right with you?
Was what was said true or false?
Think about it. Was what you saw true or false? But do not stop with just saying, “The Da Vinci Code is false.” Can you defend your answer Scripturally? Can you prove out of the Bible that what was said in the clip is false?
This is the second reason why we need to study the Bible. A “pep talk with Jesus” cannot help you defend your faith and answer such concerns as like the clip you saw. Dan Brown’s novels and other novels, movies, and media are taking Scripture and twisting it. This breeds confusion and lies about what the Bible truly says. It prevalent in our culture. Most people have a skewed view of the Bible because of these things.
However, Titus 1:9 commands us that we need to not only encourage people with the truths found in God’s Word, but we need to biblically refute those who contradict and twist the Bible. Our faith is sure because of who God is. But, we need to be ready to handle the confusion, the twisting, and the lying about the Bible. The only way that is going to happen is if we are digging deep and studying the Bible. It will take work and it will take time. But, making disciples of all nations requires us to answer questions they have and be able to stand up for the truth. Deep Bible studying is our path.
How do you view your Bible reading? Is it a time for a “pep talk with Jesus?” Again, there is nothing wrong with allowing our emotions to align with God’s thoughts and promises. But, our Bible reading is supposed to be more than that. Are we getting to know God and growing in that knowledge of God so we can live out his will for our lives? Are we studying the Bible in order to answer the questions and confusion around us?
Are you comfortable with only having a superficial knowledge of the Bible? Or are you ready to study the Bible and make it more than a pep talk with Jesus.